China is a unified multiethnic country with a unitary political system. To ensure that the legal system remains unified yet at the same time adapts to the uneven economic, political and cultural development or different areas, China practices a unified, multilevel legislative system.
The National People's Congress (NPC) and its Standing Committee exercise the state power to make laws. The NPC enacts and amends basic laws pertaining to criminal offences, civil affairs, state organs and other matters. The Standing Committee enacts and amends all laws except for basic laws that should be enacted by the NPC. When the NPC is not in session, its Standing Committee may partially supplement and revise laws enacted by the NPC, provided that the changes do not contravene the laws’ basic principles.
The State Council formulates administrative regulations in accordance with the Constitution and other laws and reports them to the NPC for records.
In line with the specific conditions and actual needs of their administrative regions and on condition that they do not violate the Constitution or other state laws and administrative regulations, the people’s congresses of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government, as well as their standing committees, may work out local statutes and report them to the NPC Standing Committee and the State Council for record. In light of their specific conditions and actual needs and on condition that they do not conflict with the Constitution, other laws and administrative regulations or local statutes passed by their provinces or autonomous regions, the people’s congresses and their standing committees of larger cities may enact local statutes and submit them to the standing committees of the people’s congresses of their provinces or autonomous regions for approval before they take effect. In addition, these standing committees shall record the local statutes with the NPC Standing Committee and the State Council.
The people’s congresses of national autonomous areas have the power to formulate regulations concerning autonomy and local needs in light of their own local political, economic and cultural conditions. These regulations of autonomous regions take effect after they are approved by the NPC Standing Committee. Such regulations made by autonomous prefectures or counties take effect after they are approved by the standing committees of the people’s congresses of the provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government; in addition, these standing committees shall record the regulations with the NPC Standing Committee and the State Council.
In China’s multilevel legislative system, laws promulgated at different levels do not have the same effect. The Constitution has the highest legal validity, and no other laws, administrative regulations, local statutes, regulations concerning autonomy and local needs, or other regulations may violate the Constitution. State laws have greater force than administrative regulations, local statutes and regulations. State administrative regulations have greater force than local statutes and regulations.
The NPC has the power to alter or annul any inappropriate laws enacted by its Standing Committee. The NPC Standing Committee has the power to annul administrative regulations that go against the Constitution or laws concerned and revoke local statutes that contravene the Constitution, other laws or administrative regulations.